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Practical Clojure (Expert's Voice in Open Source) 2010th Edition

16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1430272311
ISBN-10: 1430272317
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Luke VanderHart is a professional software developer living and working in Washington, D.C. as a consultant with NuWave Solutions. He has more than five years of experience working with the Java platform, and has worked on programs ranging from distributed client-server networks serving and synchronizing semantic XML data, to GUI development using Java Swing, to enterprise web portals serving tens of thousands of pages per day. He is a very active member of the Clojure community.

bStuart Sierra/b is an actor, writer, musician, and programmer in New York City. As assistant director of the Program on Law and Technology at Columbia University, he was the lead developer of the groundbreaking legal search engine, one of the first production web sites using Clojure. He is the author of many popular open-source Clojure libraries, including a testing framework, I/O utilities and an HTTP client. Sometimes he blogs at

Product Details

  • Series: Expert's Voice in Open Source
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 2010 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430272317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430272311
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,633,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Antonio Cangiano on July 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Published in June 2010, Practical Clojure by Luke VanderHart and Stuart Sierra is the latest Clojure book to hit stores. Despite the Clojure 1.0 jar shown at the beginning of the book, this title tries to cover the current version of the language, including references to concepts that will be introduced by the upcoming 1.2 version.

The target audience of this book is programmers who are absolutely new to Clojure. It didn't strike me as being particularly aimed at developers who are coming from the Java camp, or the Lisp camp; in this regard, the book is rather "background agnostic", even though Lisp programmers will feel much more at home than Java programmers will, due to the nature of the language itself.

The authors of the book are clearly well versed in this new language (Sierra is part of Clojure/core, the equivalent of the A-Team in Clojureland) and their confidence with the concepts presented is demonstrated throughout the book. Their explanations tend to be clear and to the point. Longer discussions are occasionally included when required to introduce concepts that are novel to most programmers, like the Software Transactional Memory (STM), refs, atoms and agents.

The book starts out by presenting a short but well-argued case for why Clojure is a worthwhile language, and then focuses almost exclusively on the core of the language. I'm afraid they do so to the detriment of the ecosystem surrounding Clojure. The authors don't talk about how to install Clojure, recommend editors and IDEs (albeit a few are casually mentioned), or how to use build tools like Ant, Maven or Leiningen.

clojure.contrib, a fundamental extension library, is barely mentioned and there is no coverage of other important libraries or emerging frameworks.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By reviewer5000 on June 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Presently there are two books out on the clojure language: Stuart Halloway's Programming Clojure and this one (hereafter referred to as V&S). Both are quick romps through the main concepts and features of the 3-year old language.

Generally, I found V&S conceptually better organized and with better prose. Halloway's prose is a frenetic interleave of brief 1-3 sentence paragraphs and single-line repl examples. V&S actually uses whole paragraphs and graphical diagrams which I found more conceptually elucidating, in some cases tying up loose ends from reading Halloway.

Somewhat ironically then, a major setback of V&S is the almost complete lack of example application code. Whereas Halloway develops at least two programs throughout the book (the Lancet example and the Snakes game) in addition to the plethora of repl snippets, V&S rely entirely on short illustrative repl snippets. V&S would have benefited greatly from including more complex applications than singular repl functions.

Both books are useful introductions to the main conceptual novelties of clojure (stm, java interop, etc.), but neither will produce competent functional programmers from those coming from the imperative mainstream. Do not buy this book if you have no functional experience and expect to be an idiomatically competent clojure programmer after reading it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By H. Yang on August 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Clojure was first announced in 2007. So far (Aug. 2010) there are two books on the market. The first book, Programming Clojure, was written in a chatty prose, so it is less usable as a language reference book. The current book under review is organized more like a traditional language reference book, so it is easier to look up things. This suits a programmer like me better, who are more used to learn by doing: building small applications and looking up needed pieces when problems are encountered. In addition, this book covers features of Clojure 1.2, which is just out.

There are also two other books that are not finalized yet, but available as electronic early access versions from the publisher (Manning). I am reading one of them, Joy of Clojure, which is a more in-depth book than the two on the market, but also written in chatty format. For my current level of experience (a few months of playing with small code, no previous Lisp experience), I feel the current book under review is the best choice.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By RPFP on August 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Disappointing book because the authors are Clojure experts and I have tremendous respect for their work in the Clojure community. However, this book is a dry, rote description of the Clojure language without any practical examples, making the title misleading and the content, not much more useful than the online API documentation. I was looking forward to this book but the authors just mechanically go through the language, making it more of a reference rather than a page-turner. I would have accepted it as a good reference, but it fails even at that because they do not give enough examples of how to use Clojure's features, leaving you to go elsewhere to figure it out.

Better titles include Manning's "The Joy of Clojure" and the upcoming "Clojure in Action". I also very much look forward to O'Reilly's "Clojure Programming". Clojure is an excellent language and it deserves better books than this one.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By pounding on the keyboard on July 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are now 2 final edition clojure books, and 2 by Manning pre-released as draft "MEAPs". VDH and S have done a very clear overview of the core clojure language only, vs. Halloway and Fogus /Houser books, which are more comprehensive and dense presentations (I'm not saying dense is worse for all readers, just the other 2 take more effort. I havne't read Rathore's book, but I've heard mostly good things about it). I think VDH and S covers 1 sigma of what you need to know to code in clojure, and covers that material very well, given a moving target of clojure releases 1.0, 1.1 and what they knew of 1.2 when they put book to press. And that's important. A lot of programming language tutorial to intermediate books take a lot of effort to read, let alone do exercises. This book, liek the Pragmatic Scala book, encourages you to open emacs and start coding, it invites you in. I've been coding clojure for a little while, so it was mostly review, but i think this would be the best first exposure to clojure for both ruby and java types, and people starting out programming.

When i say language only, there's no discussion of clojure.contrib, or the emerging infrastructure of leiningen, sbt, testing libs, etc. Other reviewers have noted that. Also no exercises and few of the little sidebars that Oreilly, Pragmatic and Manning give you(the animal tracks and traps). Another thing that might be a drawback for some, is small fonts and very small page margins. This is fine for me, but it's a lot of eye movements per line. But the important thing is this is a very clear presentation of the core concepts of the language (data structures, concurrency, macro's, java interop, performance tuning)
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